What is it?
It’s all very well for Vauxhall to come out with cheap, youthful and quirky three-cylinder versions of its much-improved new Vauxhall Corsa, but there also needs to be one for the traditionalist who wants more open-roads oomph that the average low-powered city-car versions, and is prepared to pay for it.
The 99bhp, four cylinder, 1.4-litre turbo version is just that car. We drove it in slightly sporty SRi guise, which is well-equipped inside (nearly all Corsas come with plenty of kit, mind). It also sports black 16-inch alloy wheels, with black pillars and body-colour doorhandles.
However, it retains the smoother-riding, slightly quieter Comfort chassis settings that are standard across most of the range. Opt for 17-inch wheels, though, and you'll get a Corsa with a firmer Sport chassis.
What's it like?
Vauxhall's 1.4 turbo engine is closely related to previous editions but it has been repurposed in the latest Corsa to put deliver more mid-range torque, lower CO2 emissions and improved fuel consumption.
You can see the evidence in the engine’s published specification: the generous maximum torque of 147lb ft is delivered over a flat peak between 1850 and 3500rpm but its peak power amounts to just 99bhp, fully 30 per cent less than more performance-oriented turbocharged rivals of the same capacity.
The engine starts and idles quietly, and is very smooth at low revs, but it pulls robustly as soon as the driver engages the clutch from standstill – and it delivers very docile low-end performance. Thrust is strong in the 2000rpm to 3500rpm range, but it starts to tail off in the 4000s and by 4700rpm you’re better off changing up, much like a diesel.
The benefit is claimed combined fuel consumption of 55.4mpg, and official CO2 emissions of 119g/km, low enough to save an owner from having to shell out on road tax in the first year, and limiting it to £30 in the second.
In fact, this may well be the perfect engine choice for someone who likes diesel characteristics but doesn’t want a diesel car. Given the current future over diesel emissions, Vauxhall may well have identified a trend that will grow. But woe betide the driver, used to top-endy petrol engines, who expects strong upper-range passing performance: it’s not there.